|About this Recording
8.557808 - Guitar Recital: David Martinez
David Martinez - Guitar Recital
Scarlatti • Regondi • Bach • Aguada • Sainz de la Maza • De Lucia • Tárrega
Born in the same year as Handel and J. S. Bach, Domenico Scarlatti was a Neapolitan but settled in the Iberian peninsula, first in Portugal and then in Spain, where the rhythms and sometimes the harmonies of the Spanish guitar strongly influenced many of the 555 sonatas he wrote for the harpsichord. In binary form, they have nothing to do with the later classical sonata form, and often transcribe excellently for the guitar. In their original form they embody astonishing advances in keyboard technique, scarcely possible for a single guitarist (who needs two fingers to play a single note), but a considerable number of the sonatas benefit positively from the wide expressive range that a guitar can bring to them, and guitarists have not been slow to realise that potential. K 208 is an example, a melody that may be embellished with Baroque ornaments at the player’s discretion, though at some risk of destroying the sublime simplicity of Scarlatti’s inspiration. A certain amount of embellishment was necessary on the harpsichord, which is even more incapable than the guitar of playing a note with true sustaining power. In the contrasting liveliness of K 209, there is less need. The arpeggio flourish that opens K 32 may remind you of the flamenco forms that are now so familiar. Not only in this sonata but in the following K 27, the guitar has had an unmistakable influence on Scarlatti’s composition. No wonder that guitarists regard his music as a gold-mine.
The Italian-born Regondi successfully survived early exploitation as a child prodigy, becoming much sought after, particularly in England, where he spent most of his fifty years, as a virtuoso guitarist, a composer of solo guitar pieces in the best Romantic traditions of Chopin and Schumann, and, perhaps surprisingly, a master of the Wheatstone concertina, at that time a new invention, for which he composed many works.
Regondi’s Introduction et Caprice for solo guitar is typical of his best work, its high romanticism echoing the work of the great Romantic composers of the midnineteenth century yet at the same time speaking - or singing - in Regondi’s own individual voice, ardent, poetic, rhapsodic, and ideally suited to the voice of the guitar. Chopin and Schumann never thought of writing for the guitar, but Regondi speaks the same musical language and we can understand it and enjoy it in exactly the same way.
As with Scarlatti, Bach’s works are known to guitarists through transcriptions. Nevertheless, some of his works - the so-called ‘lute suites’, for instance - are so lute-like in their musical essence and in their ability to be played on the lute’s modern fretted and plucked equivalent, the guitar, that it is difficult to believe that Bach did not write them directly for the lute. He possessed, however, a ‘Lautenwerk’, which was a keyboard instrument of the time that used the plucking mechanism of a harpsichord but was strung with gut instead of wire. This gave a sound remarkably like the lute’s, and it appears to have fascinated Bach, as well it might. It is more than likely that these lute-like pieces were written for this instrument: Bach was a master of both harpsichord and organ, but any skill he may have had with the lute is as yet undocumented. The three well-balanced movements of the Prelude, Fugue and Allegro make it a perennial favourite with guitarists.
The Spanish composer Dionisio Aguado and his Catalan contemporary Fernando Sor could easily have become rivals during their stay in Paris, but in fact they became close friends and even shared the same house. Their methods were different, both in playing and in composition, Aguado playing with nails on his righthand fingers, Sor preferring to play without. With their different techniques, both players reached heights of brilliance.
In composition, Sor, who had a life-long love for, and understanding of the four-part harmony he had been trained in at Montserrat, leaned towards the sonata form of his classical predecessors; Aguado, like his contemporary Nicolò Paganini, often adopted a binary form, as in this Andante and Rondo, in which a slow movement was followed by a quick one. Neither Aguado nor Sor became complete Romantics, as the much younger Regondi did, but both lived far enough into the Romantic age to be influenced by it.
A leading guitarist, composer and teacher of his time, Regino Sainz de la Maza has also earned a mark in history by being the first performer of the most played concerto ever, Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez.
Many of Sainz de la Maza’s compositions are flamenco-based, but another passion was the Baroque, and the four Danzas Cervantinas constitute in effect a homage to the great master of the Baroque guitar, Gaspar Sanz (1640-1710). The dances transfer well from the Baroque guitar to the modern classical guitar, once the six single strings of the modern guitar can be reconciled with the five double strings of the Baroque instrument.
Sainz de la Maza’s rescue work was done before the Early Music movement got into its stride, and the musical values of his time were unimpeded by questions of authenticity.
No flamenco guitarist has achieved more prominence in recent years than Paco de Lucia. A formidable technique, a driving sense of rhythm and a genuine creativity have set new standards in the world of flamenco. With so powerful a model, it was inevitable that other areas of the plucked string instrument should take notice, and classical guitarists were quick to seize on the possibilities.
Fuente y Caudal (Fountain and Flow) is the title of a highly successful Paco de Lucia album from 1973. In this deeply serious essay in the tarantas form, an eloquent and tragic melody and densely convoluted figuration demand a technique of brilliance from the guitarist while offering the listener a true flamenco experience. It should not be confused, but often is, with the tarantos, a dance that shares a similar name and the same harmonic progressions but nothing else.
Tárrega was undoubtedly the dominant guitar figure of the late nineteenth century, not only a celebrated recitalist but also a teacher responsible for many innovations, such as the Torres guitar (larger than hitherto), posture and sitting position (though his famous footstool is now being challenged by numerous alternatives), finger action and much more. These, perhaps more than his highly romantic compositions, opened the door for the great masters of the twentieth century who followed.
As a composer, Tárrega was deeply influenced by Schumann and, particularly, Chopin, but also had a fondness for arranging piano pieces by his contemporaries Albéniz and Granados, to the known satisfaction of Albéniz for one.
Recuerdos de la Alhambra must be the most frequently played piece ever written for the solo guitar. Every student attempts it, but it remains surprisingly difficult to bring off successfully. Even seasoned professionals cannot be sure that their tremolo will be in peak condition on the day they want it to be: the slightest irregularity in a fingernail can throw the whole thing out. It should be noted that Tárrega, who (like Sor) played without nails, did not have this problem.
Lágrima is one of the many charming little melodies that Tárrega wrote with so little apparent effort. They do not explore emotions very deeply, but they are well fitted to the instrument’s abilities, they provide the student with one or more specific technical problems to overcome, and they can be very pleasant to listen to. It is impossible to imagine them being played on any other instrument.
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